Microsoft and Nielsen Measure Cross-Platform Engagement

  • Microsoft’s ad division has created a research partnership with Nielsen dubbed the Television Online Effect program.
  • The project’s primary goal is to better learn how consumers are influenced by TV and the Web in terms of engagement with marketing messages.
  • The research, which begins in August, will use Nielsen’s TV/Internet Fusion panel and customized research Microsoft will develop.
  • The pilot will initially launch with entertainment advertisers, but will most likely expand in the future.
  • “If advertisers are looking to capture food enthusiasts for the launch of a new cooking show or networks are looking to drive Moms to primetime programming, they can leverage our exciting new service,” commented Microsoft’s Joslyn Moore in a blog post.

UK Consortium Plans to Conduct White Space Radio Trial

  • A consortium in the United Kingdom that includes Microsoft, BT and the BBC will test a white space radio service in Cambridge to determine effectiveness and any possible interference with TV transmission.
  • White space radio has been proposed to complete the UK’s broadband coverage.
  • Data rates range from 10kbps to 16Mbps depending on distance from the base station.
  • UK could be covered with 6,000 base stations on existing cell towers and provide low bandwidth services.

Microsoft Launches New Cloud Version of Office

  • Steve Ballmer will launch Office 365 this week: “a combination of communication, collaboration and productivity software delivered via the Internet” that Microsoft refers to as the “next generation cloud service.”
  • The company is hosting a launch event in New York to celebrate the suite’s debut.
  • Office 365 joins a crowded field including Google Docs and VMware’s Zimbra email, but WSJ suggests its biggest competitor might be itself: “The company now needs to convince those computer users, estimated at about one billion, to switch to Office in the cloud without disrupting the legacy version that is financing the transition.”
  • Businesses will be able to buy only the cloud services they need such as email for $2/month or Office for $27/month.
  • Large corporate clients will be allowed to use the service for free until license agreements are renewed.

Microsoft Announces Free Software Developer Kit for Kinect

  • Microsoft is helping developers looking to utilize the full potential of Kinect technology by releasing a software developer kit. While Microsoft wants to keep the focus on gaming, the company recognizes the potential for Kinect-based applications beyond video games.
  • Soon after Microsoft released the Kinect add-on for its Xbox (which has reportedly sold 10 million units), developers and hackers have been creating new and interesting ways of using Kinect and its motion-sensing camera system – from compelling interactive window displays to steering remote-controlled toy helicopters. There is even a Kinect Hacks site dedicated to such efforts.
  • Recognizing the strong interest in the technology, Microsoft officially announced the introduction of a free software developer kit for the Kinect.
  • According to the Microsoft blog: “This is only the beginning in our commitment to deliver an SDK to the community. Microsoft’s vision of the natural user interface is that interactions between people and computers will ultimately become invisible – computers will understand peoples’ gestures, listen for their voice commands, even interpret and respond to their expressions and inflections in voice.”

E3 2011: Pre-Show Announcements from Sony and Microsoft

The 3-day Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) kicks off today at the Los Angeles Convention Center. E3 is a professional trade event with a focus on electronic gaming (no longer open to the general public) that draws CE manufacturers, business partners, news media and industry analysts from 80 countries. Yesterday’s pre-show press events featured some interesting announcements from Sony and Microsoft. Today, the big news should come from Nintendo, when it unveils its next-gen Wii console (watch it live starting at 9:00 AM PDT).

Microsoft began by introducing new Xbox 360 features and games (Microsoft has sold 55 million Xbox 360s globally to-date, thanks in part to the successful Kinect motion sensor technology). Next up: voice-activated search via Bing will be available for the Xbox enabling users to sort through Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and other sites via voice commands, minimizing the need for the remote control. “You no longer have to navigate through the menus to find content,” said Mark Whitten, corporate VP of Xbox Live.

Whitten also announced that the Xbox will incorporate a live TV service in the fall. Few details were offered, other than to say that more content partners will soon be added. For the gamers, Microsoft premiered the trailer for the next installment of the Halo video game series, which expects a 2012 release (Gamespot has the trailer plus an interesting commentary). Microsoft also demonstrated new games and innovations utilizing its Kinect technology.

Sony began its Monday evening press conference with an apology to customers, video game developers and retailers regarding the recent hacker attacks that hit 70 million user accounts. Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, explained that activity on the PlayStation Network is now back up to 90 percent from what it was prior to the data breach.

Tretton also discussed the PlayStation’s growing success as the leading Netflix streamer (according to Sony, the PS3 accounts for 30 percent of video streamed via the service). Engadget reports this should come as no surprise: “…consoles far outpace other TV connected streamers in install base, and between the Xbox 360, Wii, and Sony’s box, the PS3 is the only one that lets you watch without an additional subscription and in HD.” In addition to the Netflix news, Sony announced a new partnership that will provide access via the PS3 to more than 12,000 video on-demand movies and TV shows from Best Buy-owned CinemaNow.

Sony also showcased a collection of 3D products and games, including an interesting new product bundle that features a 24-inch active shutter 3D display and 3D glasses. Engadget noted in its initial hands-on eval: “The dual-full-screen trick will only work with PlayStation 3 games specifically programmed to make use of the feature, and although none have been announced yet, we wouldn’t be surprised if pack-in title Resistance 3 is compatible. Staff couldn’t say if the games featured in the demo video, Motorstorm Apocalypse and Wipeout, would be updated to support this feature. While the demo units we saw performed their trick reasonably well, visible ghosting and flat, muted colors give us some reservations about that competitive $499 price tag.”

Sony’s biggest announcement, however, was its new handheld device, PSP follow-up the PlayStation Vita. Touting a 5-inch multitouch OLED display with rear touch pad (and front and rear cameras), the Vita will sell for $249.99 (Wi-Fi-only) and $299.99 (Wi-Fi/3G). Engadget was especially impressed with the “monstrous” OLED display and the dual analog sticks (“they completely blow away the original PSP’s analog nub”). Both models will be available exclusively through AT&T toward the end of 2011.

Related Engadget post: “Microsoft sells 55 million Xbox 360 consoles, claims that’s consoles history” (6/3/11)

Related CNET post: “E3 2011: Live TV coming to Xbox this fall” (6/6/11)

Related PC Magazine article: “E3: Sony Apologizes for Outage, Pitches 3D Display, PS Vita” (6/6/11)

Related Engadget post: “Sony’s 24-inch PlayStation 3D display first hands-on!” (6/7/11)

Related Digital Trends article: “Sony 3D Display could revolutionize 2D gaming” (6/7/11)

Related Engadget post: “PS3 claims the lead in Netflix streaming, adds VOD from Best Buy’s CinemaNow” (6/6/11)

Related Engadget update (with videos): “Sony’s PlayStation Vita: a closer look (update: burning questions answered)” (6/7/11)

Related Engadget post: “Sony’s PlayStation Vita official: $249 for WiFi, $299 for 3G” (6/6/11)

Related Engadget post: “Sony’s PlayStation Vita: first hands-on impressions” (6/6/11)

Related Wired article: “With New Hardware Far Away, E3 Expo is Thin on Innovation” (6/3/11)

Microsoft Acquires Skype in Hefty $8.5 Billion Deal

It’s official — Skype will become part of the Microsoft family. The service, that connects millions via Internet-based telephony and video, will provide Microsoft with what the Wall Street Journal describes as “a recognized brand name on the Internet at a time when it is struggling to get more traction in the consumer market.”

The deal — the biggest in Microsoft’s 36-year history — was closed late on Monday, knocking out the prospect of a Skype public offering as well as talks with other interested parties such as Google, Facebook and Cisco.

The $8.5 billion price tag is three times what Skype earned 18 months ago (when eBay sold it to a group of investors), and is clearly a sign of how ambitious Steve Ballmer and Microsoft Corp. are for new growth opportunities in the mobile phone and Internet markets.

Consumers should expect to see Skype integration with products including the Xbox gaming console and Office software suite; however, Ballmer said the service will continue to be available for Apple devices and others running Google software.

Skype was launched in 2003 by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the two pioneers behind Kazaa file-sharing technology. Today, Skype has more than 170 million active users worldwide.

Xbox 360 Now Includes Hulu Plus Service

Last week Microsoft announced its Xbox 360 will include subscription movie and TV service Hulu Plus, starting April 29. The subscription cost will be $7.99 per month (with limited advertising). Additionally, Xbox LIVE users will receive a one-week free trial sponsored by Jack Link’s Beef Jerky.

Hulu Plus will also add Kinect support, enabling users to control programs with their voice or via physical gestures. According to the Hulu blog: “With Kinect for Xbox 360, you can simply say ‘Xbox, pause’ or use gestures to rewind, pause and fast forward your way through your favorite shows.”

In related news, Gamasutra reports that a record number of Xbox 360 console sales contributed to Microsoft’s 13 percent year-on-year revenue increase for the first three months of 2011. A new quarterly record for the gaming console was set, as 2.7 million Xbox 360 units were sold (up from 1.5 million for the same period last year).

For complete details, visit the Hulu Plus on Xbox LIVE page.

Watch the video demo on Engadget“Hulu Plus on Xbox 360 launches tomorrow, all members get a free week thanks to beef jerky” (4/28/11)

Related PC World article: “Making Sense of Streaming Media Options” (4/30/11)

Related Home Media Magazine article: “Six Questions with Microsoft’s Senior Spokesman, Jose Pinero” (4/29/11) Featuring everything from Netflix to ESPN, Microsoft wants Xbox to be the media hub in the living room. Jose Pinero, senior spokesman for Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business, chatted with Home Media Magazine about where live TV fits into the Xbox 360’s future, how the addition of Kinect might be a game-changer in the console wars and whether a Blu-ray Disc drive will ever be included in the Xbox.

Microsoft to Hit Google with Antitrust Complaint

In the ongoing battle between two tech giants, Microsoft claims that Google is stifling competition in Europe where Google controls approximately 95 percent of the online search market. Microsoft also alleges that Google is limiting data from YouTube and other services. The Los Angeles Times reports that Microsoft Corp. plans to file a formal antitrust complaint against Google Inc., as part of the European Commission’s investigation launched last November.

This is the first time Microsoft has filed such a complaint against a rival.

“Google has done much to advance its laudable mission to ‘organize the world’s information,’ but we’re concerned by a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative,” wrote Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith online. “We’ve therefore decided to join a large and growing number of companies registering their concerns about the European search market.”

According to Smith, Google is limiting data from YouTube required to properly display search results for Microsoft’s Bing and other search engines. And while iPhones and phones running Google’s Android software have no problems with YouTube, Smith claims Google has blocked phones running Windows software from interacting properly with YouTube.

“These allegations raise important competition concerns, especially in light of Google’s market share,” Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin said, “and we’ll examine them more closely as we prepare for our antitrust hearing.”

Page 56 of 56«...102030...47484950515253545556